The Calgary Flames selected Cole Huckins with their third-round pick in the 2021 draft, 77th overall. A towering center out of the QMJHL, Huckins bolsters the Flames’ prospect depth down the middle and will look to improve on his strong draft season when the QMJHL returns for a full season in October.
Who is Cole Huckins?
Born and raised in Fredericton, New Brunswick, Huckins is an alumnus of Stanstead College in the Midwest Prep Hockey League. If that rings a bell, it’s likely because former Flame and first-round pick Mark Jankowski was also drafted out of Stanstead College and is one of the highest profile men’s hockey player to come from that program. Huckins, no doubt, wants to join—and surpass—Jankowski’s Flames legacy.
Following his time at Stanstead College, Huckins has finished two seasons in the QMJHL playing for the Acadie-Bathurst Titan. Here are his numbers from the Q:
Huckins saw drastic improvement this past season. He grew from just under 0.6 points per game to almost a full point per game in his draft year, one of the reasons he shot up draft boards as the QMJHL season went on. Among 17-year-olds, he finished sixth in total scoring and ninth points per game. The Titan were swept in the QMJHL quarterfinal, but Huckins tallied five points (all assists) in nine playoff games.
He comes from a strong hockey family, the Malones, with several close relatives reaching high levels of professional hockey. He is cousins with Ryan Malone who played almost 650 NHL games, current NHLer Brad Malone who is with the Edmonton Oilers, and is the nephew of Greg Malone who played over 700 NHL games.
What does Huckins bring to the table?
Huckins is a very solid offensive player. A couple of things stand out when you watch him play, the first being how noticeable his size is. This isn’t a player who grew too fast and hasn’t figured out how to use his body effectively. On the contrary, Huckins uses his size very well to bully his way to the front of the net and create chaos. He can often be found driving the net and playing a power forward type role.
You can find many clips of Huckins barreling down the wing and setting up his teammates. He’s a hard worker and looks to create offense on the rush, something that works very well in the Q. Here’s a great clip of Huckins basically deciding he would create a quality chance, and beating out a few defenders to do it.
One of the best parts of Huckins’ game is that you can tell he’s a smart player with high-end vision. That’s a big part of what helps players translate their game to higher and higher levels, and Huckins is fortunate to have those tools in his arsenal. Rounding out his offensive game, Huckins possesses a strong wrist shot with a fast release that can beat goalies clean from mid range. Here’s a fun clip of Huckins absolutely sniping a shot from the right faceoff dot.
As a big player, Huckins’ skating is a work in progress, as can be expected. It’s been noted that he does have decent top speed, but his agility and edge work need work, and those are skills that are necessary in higher professional leagues including the NHL.
His deficiencies in skating sometimes hold him back on defense as well because he can struggle to get back and into position. This is something that could hold him back if he doesn’t improve and might be an issue depending on who coaches him at higher levels.
What’s next for Huckins
Huckins is a very intriguing player. With his size and skill, Huckins has all the tools to develop quickly and into a very solid power forward. If he improves his skating he will definitely be able to make an impact at higher levels, hopefully as high as the NHL.
He will likely play the next two seasons in the QMJHL, and then hopefully move to the AHL after that. It’s a little tough to project his future at this point simply due to his status as a middling prospect right now. He didn’t have a mind-blowing draft year in the Q, but with a strong D+1 year we could be talking about Huckins as a fast rising Flames prospect.